Many of today’s video games offer incredibly lively visuals, but if you’re sitting in front of your television or computer monitor, you’re still looking around at your screen and the rest of your room.
It can destroy the all-important suspension of disbelief.
For an even more immersive experience, many gamers are slipping on a virtual reality (VR) headset to be transported to another world entirely. That is, you’re “in” the game, complete with 360-degree views, tied to head tracking, so wherever you move your head in real life (up, down, side-to-side, or even (that looking behind you), in first person games your perspective is also reflected inside the virtual content.
Plus, the audio in VR is also “localized,” so you can hear sounds all around you, like a groaning zombie crawling behind you or a roaring dinosaur right ahead. Most VR systems let you “touch” virtual content using each handheld controller or, in some cases, using nothing but your hands.
As with most VR systems, you’ll be prompted to set up a play area around you using the controller, and if you accidentally get too close to something, such as a wall, you’ll have to stay inside the actual game. A blurred outline of the world object may appear. Your virtual world, to alert you. Some games can also be played sitting down.
While it took a few years to evolve from a niche market to a mainstream activity, there are now a variety of VR headsets available.
Headsets, or head-mounted displays (HMDs), are available in one of three flavors: tethered models connected to a PC (such as HTC Vive Cosmos, Valve Index, Oculus Rift), or a console (such as PSVR); Standalone models (such as the Oculus Quest 2), which are cable-free and can download and store content via WiFi; And some that require putting a smartphone in front of an HMD, but aren’t a popular choice today. Most headsets can fit snugly over glasses.
According to Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s mobile and consumer device trackers (which includes VR), the global VR hardware industry was estimated to be worth $2.1 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow marginally to $2.8 billion in 2021 – but the projected To balloon to about $10 billion by 2025.
These VR forecast numbers include both tethers and standalone VR headsets, but do not include screenless viewers, such as the Samsung Gear VR or any Google Cardboard-type device.
“To date, the biggest hurdle for VR is content and pricing,” Ubrani says. “In the beginning, consumers had to spend thousands of dollars to get into VR because it required a powerful PC, plus a headset or console plus a headset.
“Most importantly, the content was very limited,” continues Ubrani, based in Toronto. “In the last year or so, the market has expanded significantly as many of those barriers are starting to fade.”
Ubrani believes Facebook has done a “great job” of making VR more accessible, by launching headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 ($299 for the 64GB version or $399 for the 256GB model). An optional Oculus Link virtual reality headset cable ($79) lets you connect the Oculus Quest 2 to a PC via a USB-C port for extra power.
“On the content side, there are an increasing number of developers who have seen great financial success and the market has seen the availability of AAA games over time as well,” he says. “That said, from a consumer standpoint, VR still runs the risk of being another gaming platform, as other types of content have had limited success.”
not just for gamers
In addition to games, there are many other VR experiences.
For example, 360-degree videos make you feel like you’re there, whether it’s a virtual vacation to an African safari or watching a Cirque du Soleil performance.
VR is beginning to be used in sports as well, so imagine one day “sit” in the best seat at your favorite team’s home – while in the comfort of your own home.
VR is also being used for education (such as traveling through the human body in science class), in therapy sessions (including the treatment of phobias, like the fear of spiders or heights), for shopping (virtually in malls). hanging out), communication (chat rooms, boardroom meetings and online dating), and artistic expression (virtual paintings, musical collaborations), and more.
Ubrani says, “Apart from consumers, the use of VR in the enterprise is also increasing and we see a very bright future here as the need for remote collaboration and training will continue to drive adoption.”
But if that’s the game you want, we’ve seen a number of impressive titles in the past few months. Here are some worth considering.
$29.99; Rated “Teenager”; For Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, Valve Index
If you like “Fortnite,” “Population: One,” “Battle Royale” takes the formula to the next level.
The Western-themed Season 2 of Bigbox VR’s first-person VR game pits eight squads of three players against each other (24 players per match, up from 18 in the original) in an intense battle, on a detailed map with many . Distant areas (be sure to try the cemetery area).
Supporting cross-play between different VR headsets, the multiplayer-only game focuses heavily on a vertical combat system, which lets you scale, jump, and glide down on the ground to tall buildings, bridges and windmills , while shooting at all the enemies and escape. fire.
The controls are smooth and, surprisingly, the game developers handled motion smoothly to avoid nausea in such fast-paced games.
‘Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey’
$19.99; Rated “everyone”; for oculus quest
Bub and Bob are back in a new Puzzle Bobble (aka Bust-a-Move) game.
To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the iconic bubble-popping puzzler, Servios and Taito send dragons to a deserted island in “Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey,” the first virtual reality title for the franchise.
Instead of aiming your cannon to shoot bubbles – matching a single color to destroy as many as possible – the game is now played from a first-person 3-D view, featuring over 100 different puzzles. And there are additional head-scratching challenges.
The game has three modes: Story (increasingly challenging levels), Infinite (match your way to the high score), and Online Duel (a fast-paced, one-on-one multiplayer match).
‘Star Wars Pinball VR’
$24.99; Rated “Everyone 10+”; For Oculus Quest, Steam VR and PlayStation VR
Speaking of classic games, if you missed the smoky arcade and pockets full of quarters, you might be reacquainted with the thrill of pinball – this time in virtual reality.
And if you’re a Star Wars fan on top of that, the force is strong with it.
Zen Studios’ “Star Wars Pinball VR” features eight themed tables, including a pair of never-before-seen options: “The Mandalorian” and Star Wars Classic Collectibles. As you can guess, it will feel like you are playing pinball – flippers, bumpers, plungers, ramps and up to the silver ball.
As with all tables, including remastered favorites from previous (non-VR) versions of “Star Wars Pinball”, the game includes a fully customizable fan cave to hold your virtual pinball table (and the items you earn); an optional total immersion mode (experience everything at the table level); 360-degree minigames (with the iconic Star Wars set piece), and a cantina jukebox (with music by John Williams).
‘Sniper Elite VR’
$29.99; Rated “Mature” 17+; For Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift; Steam VR; HTC Vive; PSVR
World War II is raging. This is southern Italy, 1943, and the fascist forces occupied your homeland. As a member of the brave Italian resistance, you will not let the Nazis take over.
You must test your marksmanship as a sharpshooter in Rebellion’s “Sniper Elite VR”, an exhilarating first-person shooter. As you might expect, you’ll be holding some WWII-era rifles, lowering the scope, and attempting to peg enemy forces away with precision—and as stealthily and successfully as possible. Other period weapons include pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, and explosives.
As with other sniper games, including the recently released “Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2,” a dramatic (and bloody) bullet-cam dramatically highlights your successful headshots.
The single-player campaign spans 18 missions, but is replayable, as you can try different tactics on the larger maps.